Written by Brian Linsky
From writer and director Jon Bristol, and his crew at Elmwood Productions, comes HEAD, a weekend camping trip with a site to die for.
HEAD is a throwback to the Grindhouse films of the 1970s and 80s, but with one major difference… all of the actors are puppets.
Bristol admits to being a huge fan of The Muppets, and when the comic illustrator, turned film director, had a chance to make his first film, he came up with the idea of casting puppets.
Influenced by not only The Muppet Movie, but the films of George Romero, Evil Dead, and classic B-Horror films, Bristol jokess he wanted to get the look of the low budget horror flicks, but with better acting.
HEAD falls somewhere between the category of Friday the 13th, and Crank Yankers, but the short film is surprisingly well done, and its characters are certainly entertaining.
If you’re looking for a dramatic tearjerker to watch with the family on movie night, then HEAD is clearly not for you. However, if you’re a fan of crude humor, slasher flicks, and the art of puppetry, then HEAD is the film you’ve been waiting for.
The plot surrounds five young co-eds from the Boston area, who decide to go camping for the weekend, only to find out that the location they chose for their getaway was the scene of a brutal mass murder years earlier.
The group is later joined by Tom, a loner in his early 30s, who inadvertently stumbles upon the kids’ campsite while looking for somewhere to pee.
Though the group is slightly untrusting of Tom at first, the campers soon learn that Tom has just as much reason to worry as everyone else. There’s a sadistic killer on the loose, and they’re decapitating the campers one by one.
When the gang finds a tree in the woods covered with the severed heads of the victims, all bets are off on who the killer may be.
The puppets for HEAD were built by Jon Bristol, along with the assistance of Mike Finland and Ben Farley, who say the puppets usually take anywhere from 12 – 40 hours to complete.
Bristol’s decision to use puppets instead of traditional actors made the film enjoyable to watch, even though some of the storyline may seem a little familiar. The characters’ foul mouths and carefree attitudes also made the film fun, and added the perfect amount of raunchiness to the mix.
After watching HEAD, I caught up with Jon to discuss the process of making the film, and see what else Elmwood Productions has up their sleeves for the future. I want to thank Jon for taking the time to talk to iHorror, and giving us a behind the scenes look at the film.
iH: I assume it’s probably easier to work with puppets instead of people, but what’s better about it, what’s tougher?
JB: It’s 50/50… With an actor doing a take two (or more) is much easier, just go back to one, and start again. With a puppet, every scene is a special effect. Even something as simple as picking up a gun and pointing it can take three people working under the puppet, and doing it take after take can get tiresome and cumbersome. But it’s worth it.
Puppets have much better attitudes, and none of the drama, that come with most actors I’ve dealt with. Another huge plus is if you need to take a long break in shooting the puppet won’t get a haircut, or shave, hahaha… Or age! So if need be you can take a long break and not worry about continuity.
iH: Are the lead characters in HEAD based on actual people you know?
JB: I wrote it with some friends of my own in mind. But only one of the puppets looks like the person it was based on, Lenny. He looks like J.R. Calvo, who acted as a vampire hunter in “Steve the Vampire”, and he’s also a writer, and did some punch ups for dialog on the script before we shot it. I did try to make some of the puppets look “familiar” … Based on actors and celebrities.
iH: How did your Kickstarter campaign go? Did you reach your goal?
JB: I had fought the idea of doing a Kickstarter for years, because I didn’t want to jump on the begging for money bandwagon, and I wanted to makes sure the project was just right. Finally, the rest of the Elmwood gang convinced me now was the time.
We didn’t ask for much, only $3000.00, so I think that helped us get the goal met. We weren’t being greedy, hahaha. We wanted just enough to get some new lighting and sound gear and have enough to press DVDs. It worked out great, we surpassed the goal by a couple hundred bucks!
iH: HEAD has been nominated for numerous horror awards, What have you won so far?
JB: At Fear NYC, New York, Chris Geirowski won Producer of the Year. We’ve also won at numerous film festivals for Best Screenplay, Best Feature, Best Underground Film, Best Special Effects, Best Midnight Movie, and at the Yellow Fever Film Fest in Belfast, Ireland, we won Best Film.
iH: What’s next for Elmwood Productions?
JB: We just finished shooting a web series called “The Risley Brothers”, a ten episode comedy about two brothers who own and run a bar. The pilot is on our VHX page now, and the series should be premiering early spring 2017.
And of course HEAD! We just set up a deal with I Bleed Indie for it to be rented or purchased on the site. I’m really glad the film found a home there. It’s the perfect vibe for this weird little horror/comedy. Also get ready for HEAD 2! Yes, there will be a sequel.
iH: Sounds good, we’ll keep an eye out for it! Fans can currently watch HEAD at ibleedindie.com, and stay up to date with the latest projects from Elmwood Productions by visiting their official website.
It seems to be a pretty popular time for puppets in horror these days. NECA recently announced they will start selling their Ashy Slashy puppet beginning in 2017.